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How nice of you to drop in and visit my page. It's actually not really about myself, but about the Lord Jesus Christ. This is a place you can come, should you find time, and find encouragement and free resources for spiritual growth. I pray you will be blessed and provoked to follow on to know the Lord intimately yourself. Seek HIM and HIS Face for HE alone is WORTHY!! He alone is lovely! Most of what is written on this blog is written by myself, during my study time with the Lord unless otherwise stated. If it's otherwise, the author's name will be included.

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Sunday, November 2, 2008

After the Cross

Peter and John had ran to the sepulcher and found His tomb empty, but they could not believe the women or the two who met the Lord on the road to Emmaus. There was some stressed out men in this room. They had all failed Him. They had all forsook Him. If He had truly risen, why would He come to them? But how could that be? They saw Him die. They didn't think it possible, but they saw it. But then again, they were talking about a Man who could walk on water, who told the wind and waves to be at peace and they immediately stopped raging. This was no normal Man they were talking about. There was some arguing going on in here, too, I think. Perhaps they were blaming each other for not doing something to help the Lord. Perhaps they were picking at each other's mistakes, in their misery. I think they were blaming each other, and then realizing there was enough blame to go around. Oh, Peter had denied Him, James and John had wanted to call fire down on Samaria. They had all ran away in the garden. Nobody had spoken up in His defense at that mockery of a trial. None of them had lifted a finger to help Him in His worst hour. Surely, their misery and guilt was overwhelming. They were all devastated and none of them had any peace with themselves or with each other. There was still mourning and quiet weeping going on in this place. (Mar_16:10) They had learned so much, they had seen so many miracles performed by this Man-even performed many themselves in His name. And this is how it would end? In utter helplessness with His own paralyzed with fear, unable to move forward, their faith and confidence shattered? How could He forgive them for their abandoning Him in His hour of need? How could they forgive themselves? Was there resentment among the disciples toward one another? I don't know. But I do believe there was friction and depression and despair.
But then Peace appears in their midst. Oh, hallelujah, the church may be down, but not out.

Joh 20:19 Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.

Their eyes widen with astonishment. I can't imagine all the conflicting emotions that rushed through their minds and hearts. He knew they weren't at peace which was why that is the first thing He said. He didn't come with "I told you that you would all fail me." He didn't come to remind them of their failures. He came to put their fears at rest and give them peace.
Peace, He says, be yours. As My Father has sent Me to share the good news that there is freedom and hope possible, and to show the world who He is, and what He is like, even so I now send you. Then He breathed on them and said "receive ye the Holy Ghost."

In Gen_2:7 He formed Adam from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and man became a living soul. Every part, every organ, every member of Adam's body began to function correctly, in perfect harmony with the rest of the members of this body when the breath of God blew in his nose. That word receive (G2983) in the Greek is 'lambano' and it means to accept, to strive to obtain, hold, gripped, to lay hold of any person or thing, claiming what is one's own to one's self, to make one's own companion or attendant. It also means to take a thing that is due, receive what is offered. We must give Him access to ourselves. We must have regard for His power, His position, who He is, with HIGH esteem. We must experience Him and get to know Him and listen to Him. Consult Him first always.

Thomas wasn't with the disciples at this time. His name means 'twin'. He doubts their word, just as they did, when others tried to tell them Jesus had risen. Something about Jesus' death had hit Thomas particularly hard. Unlike the others, his reaction was "unless I see the prints of the nails in His hands and touch them, and put my hand in His side, where they pierced Him, I will not believe." This was the disciple who was so passionate, when he heard Lazarus had died, said "lets go that we may die with him". (Joh_11:16) He asked questions, because he had a desire to understand, when Jesus was telling them He was the Way, the Truth, and the Life. I believe there was a deep work going on in Thomas' heart. He was unable to take anything on faith now. He loved Jesus passionately. He had never given the Lord any trouble. There is no mention of the Lord ever having to calm him down or rebuke him as he had with Peter, James and John. But neither had he been included in some of the intimate times with the Lord they had. When they tried to tell him the Lord had appeared to them, and brought peace to their hearts, he would not believe. He would not listen to them.

This church is getting off to a slow start. They have been shaken. They seem to have no direction, or motivation to do anything but stay indoors, out of sight, in hiding. Eight days later, the disciples are again gathered together, and this time Thomas is there. And again, Jesus comes, offering peace. His attention is on Thomas this time.

"Thomas, reach out, see my hands? Here they are...reach out your hand and thrust it in my side..don't be faithless...believe."

At the sight of Him, hearing Him echo his own words, I believe it took Thomas to His knees...for He said "My Lord, and My God." Understanding lit up His mind. This truly is the Lord. He really did come back from where men couldn't come.

But, still, after these two episodes, the disciples were still struggling, unable to put it together. They seemed unable to function as He had said they would. I think Peter was just fed up, and decided to go fishing. That was something he could understand. It was simple. The others went with him. They toiled all night but caught nothing. It was a wasted effort, for their was no fruit produced by the efforts of their flesh. There was nothing accomplished except frustration and emptiness, and weariness. When we try to serve the Lord in our own strength, we can accomplish nothing of eternal value. All works done in the flesh, not in and by the power of the Holy Spirit will be burnt up. They will be as wood, hay or stubble.

Early the next morning, as they approach land, they see Someone standing there. He asks them if they have any meat? Have you eaten? The implication is have you found any fulfillment in what you are doing? They have found nothing.

He says cast the net on the right side of the ship and you will find what you come out here for." They did, and the net filled up so fast with fish they could not pull it in. Then they knew it was the Lord. Peter grabbed his outer coat and unable to wait until the boat reached land, jumped in the sea and hurried to the shore...
I find it interesting that when the Lord's people obeyed, the harvest (and we worry why people aren't being saved like they should be) was there and all they had to do was pull it in. When He tells you where to spread the net,it's because only He knows where the hungry fish are. Same with people. He knows where those who are hungry for truth are. How important it is that we can hear His voice and follow Him for ourselves. God help us if we are depending on the preacher for a word from God. Bring what you caught, He says, but come eat what I prepared. Come and dine, He says. Come eat with Me. As they all sit down together, something is different about this meeting. Simon, you love Me more than they do? Jesus asks him. This word Jesus uses is Agapao. (G25) It means to love much, beloved, cherished. I believe He is saying this because Peter has made this boast. Perhaps it was when they were arguing over who would be the greatest-who would do more for the Lord, or perhaps it was when Peter told the Lord he would go all the way, that he'd die for the Lord, or go to jail with Him, right before Gethsemane, and Peter's denial of the Lord three times.

Yes, Lord, he said, You know I love you.
Feed My lambs. Tend them, rule them, supervise them. This should go without saying, but I am going to say this: Tend them as I have you-diligently, passionately, kindly, and patiently. Bear long with them in love. The word for feed here is G1006, bosko, and it means to feed, to protect, guard, to keep safe.

It is the duty of a Christian teacher to promote, and instruct every member of the church in the way of truth. It is the duty of the teacher to be fully submitted to the Holy Spirit, to be in close communion with the Spirit of God because only then can the teacher get the food for the sheep that will strengthen, and prepare and keep them. The lambs have a hard journey ahead, with a deadly enemy stalking them, seeking whom he may devour. They cannot make it on milk alone. Milk alone will not help them grow strong as they need to in order to survive. They need strong meat, anointed and quickened by the Holy Spirit who alone knows when and how much they can digest. If the shepherd of the church-the pastor, or teacher is not in close communion with the Holy Spirit, the best he can come up with is milk. It will not do. The sheep will be sick and weak and fall away eventually on such a spiritual diet. The shepherd must feed on the Bread of life himself-in total dependence. Then there will be no arrogance, no harshness. You can't feed directly on HIM and it be any other way.

If you get in His presence, and He teaches you, and feeds you life, it will humble you, open your eyes to your own helplessness and you will know that there is no way you could have gotten this on your own.

This shepherd can then go and stand before the sheep and gently break the Bread of life he has been given, and ask and trust the Lord to bless and multiply it in the hearts and lives of the people, and deliver it to them. He will trust the Holy Spirit to convict hearts and work the work only HE can do as the seed is sowed. For then, the Word will be sent forth by the Lord, and it will accomplish what He intends it to accomplish. It's not just a man, searching for a message himself, with no spiritual leadership or guidance-or very little input, and get up and throw the Word at the people and dare them not to obey it. It grieves my heart when I see this happen. If you have to get up and threaten the people with God's judgment for their lack of worship, or their lack of being moved by the Word, and these folks have set under your leadership for years, then you need to go examine yourself and get alone with God and find out what the problem is. If the lambs are dying off, running away, or being devoured, and the sheep are sick and weak-the shepherd isn't feeding them right. The River of life is being hindered from flowing and the Spirit isn't moving in the midst like He wants to. Something is blocking the life of God working in the midst. Then, the shepherd can trust that the Master knows the difference between the tares and wheat and ministers to the wheat. He gives the sower the right seed to sow in the hearts of the people and the Holy Spirit is right there to water it, when it is done under His leadership.

Again, Jesus asks Peter, calling him Simon, Do you love me? Simon is one who hears, but he wasn't anchored by the Word. But he will become Peter, the rock, the one who won't be tossed about or shaken or go back ever again to the former things. That is the power of the Spirit of God.
Feed my sheep. He says this time. There is a difference between the sheep and the lambs. The word for feed here is different this time. It's G4165 pomaino. It means to feed, tend, and keep sheep, furnishing them food, and a place to feed, but also to rule, or govern them. This means dedication, as well, and diligence. The shepherd is required to protect, guard, feed, guide, instruct, govern, and provide a safe environment for the sheep. How we need to pray for our pastors. Theirs is a job that requires a complete submission to and close daily contact with the Lord.

The third time, the Lord looks at Peter and says "Simon, son of Jonas, do you love Me?" This time, the word for love used here is phileo (G5368) and it means to have affection for, with personal attachment to, be a friend to, in fondness as a matter of sentiment or feelings. Peter was distressed, remembering his denial of the Lord, and wondering why was the Lord asking him again. Peter most likely thought, well I denied Him three times, now He doesn't believe I love Him. But I think there was another reason the Lord was putting Peter on the spot-and it had more to do with the other disciples' thoughts and feelings about this, I think.

Something was being taught them here. Lord, help us see and hear what You are saying and what you mean in these Scriptures for there are none of us who have not failed You, who by our indulging self and following the desires of our flesh, have not denied You. Please forgive us, and please open our understanding to these Scriptures. May Your Word strengthen and prepare us to face the days ahead, and draw us to communion with Yourself...help us reject the fear and guilt that would hinder us from coming to You and remember You said those who come to You that You would never cast out or send away empty.

Again, Feed my sheep. This is the first word "feed" as with the lambs. (G1006) Then the Lord begins to minister things to come to this man. When you were young, you followed your own path, wherever you wanted to go, you went. But when you are old, you will reach out your hands and Another will bind you and take you where you wouldn't want to go. There is a two-fold application here. Yes, the Lord is hinting at the death Peter will die one day for the sake of the Gospel. But, he's going to be an apostle, led by and governed by the Spirit of God and he will be led into some hard places where his flesh is unable to go or to want to go. He will be jailed, beaten, threatened, persecuted, and vilified. He will have to deny himself, and surrender lordship of His life to the Holy Spirit. He will be shown that the Word is for all people, not just Jews. His religious prejudices will be overcome, and destroyed. This will be a growing and learning process that will continue after the Lord ascends back to heaven-one to which he will submit.

When we die to self, it glorifies God. When we are willing to reject ourselves and embrace HIM, HE is glorified. People might call you crazy because the preaching of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing. Still, secretly they will wonder what it is about this great God we serve that would make us willing to go to such lengths to have Him. They will wonder and when they see Him in us, they will want Him or run from Him but they will not be able to be casual about Him. Then, Jesus said "Follow Me." I believe He is saying, I set the example by the life I lived here on earth before you. You are all witnesses to how I lived, what My life was about, who governed My life, and decisions. You saw the struggle in the Gethsemane, but My Father was faithful and saw Me through that hard time, when I had no one else to lean on. You saw a life poured out for others, so they might have hope and redemption and access to My Father. Follow My example. Live as I lived, walk and talk as I did. Follow Me, deny yourself and embrace ME and My way. My way means you have to die. But if you die to what you are, you will live to what and who I am. Will you follow Me?

Luk 24:49 And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.

He knows we can't do this on our own. We have to come to Him, and trust Him to be the strength in us to lay ourselves aside and embrace Him. Remember the testimony of Jesus Christ is one of self-sacrifice but it's also one of victory, power and it changed the world. If He told them to tarry and wait for the power to follow His example, then we must do this. If we try to follow His example in our own strength, we won't be able. We will make fools of ourselves and end up misrepresenting Him. Lord help us to bring our fears and failures to You, help us acknowledge it if we haven't been seeking You and we don't have the burden for the lost we should have. Help us to come running to Your presence, knowing You alone are our hope, and there is no other way. Help us to surrender ourselves fully to You, exchanging rags for true riches, and walk as You walked-totally devoted to the will of the Father. We need to be filled with the Holy Spirit and we can't fill ourselves. (Eph 5:18)

People are hurting, sin is destroying families, this nation is falling apart. All around the world, people are dying lost, miserable in life, and without hope in death because they don't know You. There are so many false teachers, false leaders and prophets leading the people into confusion. We know we've failed You, Lord. We read the Book of Acts, we read Your life on display in the Gospels and we battle shame and fear and confusion but we hunger to be like You and we can't fill ourselves. We have allowed too many things to hinder us from coming into Your holy presence and we just don't know how to fully give ourselves to You, but we want to. Lord empower us, draw us. Help us see You as You are! This poor and needy world has seen so much fake and phony they don't believe. Many are hard to You because of the deceit in religion. Religion truly does kill. Oh, Holy Spirit we need You to come, and breathe on us and set us in order in the Body of this Great Christ! Help us find our way to the place in Him we belong. Help us see the glorious hope placed before us is worth rejecting everything else so we might obtain Him and His glorious life. The sufferings of this time are truly not worthy to be compared to the glory which shall be revealed then. There is no comparison.

He is incomparable and one day all shall stand before Him. Those who surrendered fully to Him will be so glad they did and those who didn't will weep and wail when they behold His magnificence and see His love for them and know they are lost to Him forever because of a choice they made-many based on a misrepresentation of God to them in their lives. God help us not do that to someone. Forgive us for doing that. Help us, Holy Spirit, to follow you quickly to the cross and be done with self, trusting You alone can raise us up in the newness and power of a victorious life of Christ. We can't live this life in human strength. We can't follow you in our own strength. It's not by human might or human reasoning but by Your Spirit and Your Power (Zec 4:6). Have mercy on us and help us, Lord. You have given us the desire, but You must be the power in us working the work. We know You are more willing to do this than we have been to receive it in the past and we ask Your forgiveness. Make us willing to be willing to do anything it takes to have this victory over self, sin, the world and the devil. In Jesus' matchless and mighty name, we ask.

Rom 8:11 But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.

Can I get an amen?

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